Cigars cannot be placed into a brand new humidor and be expected to stay fresh. Why? Unless it is properly prepared, there is not an adequate amount of humidity inside your humidor. That said, here are instructions on how to prepare a new humidor.
1) Using a paper towel or a soft cloth, wipe down the entire inner surface of the humidor, including the inside of the lid, with distilled water. (It is crucial that only distilled water be used for this since water drawn from any other source will contain bleach, calcium, chlorine and other chemicals and minerals that will clog your humidification unit and, worst of all, impart those flavors to your cigars.)
2) Dip the humidification unit in a shallow bowl of distilled water and let it soak for 5 to 10 seconds. After it has been soaked, shake out any excess water and place it on a paper towel for a few minutes. This will allow any additional excess water to drain out. After a few minutes, affix the humidification unit to the roof of your humidor (or in the case of the glass top humidors, place it to either side or follow the instructions that came with your humidification unit) and close your humidor. It should be allowed to sit for at least 12 hours.
3) After 12 hours repeat step 1. Do not skip this step. Any cigars placed inside your humidor too early will be competing for humidity with the still porous cedar lining and will not be adequately humidified.
How do I maintain my humidor?
Assuming it was properly prepared when you first purchased it, the only real maintenance required will be to refill the humidification unit from time to time. How often this is necessary depends, of course, on the reading of your hygrometer and the condition of your cigars.
If you use only distilled water, once a month ought to be sufficient. If you are using a 50/50 mix of distilled water and propylene glycol in your humidification unit, the humidity will remain constant for a considerably longer period of time.
However, if you open your humidor several times a day or live in a particularly dry climate, more regular maintenance may be needed. Keep in mind that you will have to be more attentive to the humidity level inside your humidor during winter months when the relative humidity inside your house may drop significantly and draw some of the moisture out of your humidor.
Besides refilling your humidification unit from time to time, the only other precautionary steps you need to take to ensure a great-working humidor are to keep it away from windows or heating or air conditioning vents. Direct contact with sunlight will fade the wood and cause the internal temperature to rise above acceptable levels, while rapid changes in temperature that may occur near a heating or air-conditioning vent may damage the humidor as well as any cigars contained inside of it.
Are the hygrometers accurate?
Analog hygrometers (the round dials included in most humidor boxes) are often as much as 20% off in their reading when brand new. This does not indicate that they are defective, just that they haven’t been exposed to any humidity in a while and in some cases they need to be calibrated.
Remember most small inexpensive hygrometers are only accurate to within 3% so do not be surprised if it reads 72% or 78% RH.
Do I really need a wooden humidor box to store my cigars?
Yes, you do. Though there are many inexpensive plastic “Tupperdors” being sold these days, none can do the job of an authentic cedar-lined humidor box. Although the plastic devices may have an attractive price, they will not and can not provide the air circulation or humidity regulation needed for cigars to age. At best, a plastic Tupperdor will prevent your cigars from drying out, while a cedar-lined wooden humidor box allows for the slow and steady release of air and exchange of gasses created during a cigar’s maturation process. An airtight plastic humidor will normally over-humidify your cigars and cause them to get moldy or burst open.
My humidor was accidentally left open for several days. Do I need to re-humidify it? How do I do that? What should I do about my cigars?
If your humidor has been left open for a few days and the humidity inside of it has evaporated, simply re-prepare it as you did when it was new. (Including re-moistening the humidification unit.) However, there is likely still a fair amount of humidity in the interior cedar, so you will probably only need to wipe it down once. (If too much moisture is applied, you run the danger of warping the interior.) While you are letting it sit overnight, place your cigars in a temporary plastic humidor or Humidi-Pak so that they don’t dry out any further. Once the humidity has been restored to you humidor, return your cigars to it and let them sit undisturbed until they have been adequately re-humidified.
Can’t I just keep my cigars in one of those cheap plastic “Tupperdors?” A friend of mine just got one and he swears by it.
Yeah, and he’ll be swearing at it the first time he opens it up to discover that his cigars have burst open or they’re covered with mold. These devices will work, as a temporary fix, when you don’t have room for a few cigars in your authentic humidor box, but they are neither a reliable or dependable substitute for the long-term storage provided by a wooden humidor box.
How long will my humidor keep my cigars fresh?
If properly maintained, there is no reason a good humidor shouldn’t be capable of storing your cigars for the duration of your life. In fact, there have been reports of pre-embargo cigars “discovered” in walk-in humidors that were placed there 40 or 50 years ago and they were said to be out-of-this-world-delicious.
What qualities should I look for when buying a humidor?
The qualities you want to look for in a humidor are as follows: it should be cedar lined, solidly built with a good, tight, seal and a raised lip around the inside of the box, and be large enough to hold at least 25 to 30 cigars.
What kind of humidor should I buy? That depends on what your storage needs are.
Aesthetically, your choice will be a reflection of your own personal sense of style. A good humidor can be much more than a well-working and functional piece of equipment, it can be a piece of furniture that adds charm and distinction to a room.
As far as size is concerned, we recommend a box that can accommodate at least 50 or more cigars. Why? Although you may not plan to keep a lot of cigars around at any given time, larger humidors offer the ideal amount of air circulation for properly aging cigars.
In addition, you should not preclude the possibility of stocking up or buying a box or two simply because you do not have enough room for them. Also, once word gets out that you own a humidor box, you might get lucky and receive a box of cigars as a gift from someone and it would be a shame for them to dry out because you didn’t have enough room to store them in a smaller box.
We do sell smaller travel humidors that hold 10 to 20 cigars but these units are, as their name suggests, designed for travel, and not intended to be used for longer, indefinite lengths of time. We carry humidors that can hold from 10 to 750 cigars, so we are sure to have one that meets your specific needs.
Why do I need to use distilled water in my humidor?
Water drawn from any other source, whether bottled, straight from the tap, or put through a Brita system, will still contain bleach, calcium, chlorine and other chemicals and minerals that will clog your humidification unit and, worst of all, impart those flavors to your cigars.
What is a hygrometer?
A hygrometer is a device used to measure the humidity levels within an enclosed space. Most tabletop humidor boxes include the analog variety, which provide a reading on a small round dial. These are usually accurate within 5 or 10 degrees but they require semi-annual re-calibration in order to keep them working properly.
I just bought a new humidor and I can’t get the humidity to 70%. Is there a problem with the seal?
Probably not. If it’s a brand new humidor, you need to have some patience.
Any humidor worth its salt will be cedar-lined and will take some time to break in. Cedar is an extremely porous wood and it will absorb much of the water from your humidification unit before it even gets a chance to enter your cigars. This is why the interior of all brand new humidors need to be wiped down with distilled water and allowed to sit with no cigars in it for at least 24 hours.
If you immediately put cigars in a brand new humidor box, they will be competing with the wood for the humidity that your humidification unit provides.
If you’ve already wiped down the inside of your humidor box, and it is still not reaching 70% humidity, you may not have a humidification element large enough for the size of your humidor box.
The hygrometer inside my humidor isn’t reading 70% but it’s pretty close. Should I worry about this?
How are your cigars? Press down in the center of a cigar with your thumb. (Make sure you don’t press down on the head or you could crack the cap if it has gotten a little dry.)
Depending on the size of your humidor you may need to repeat this procedure on a number of different cigars. Cigars in particularly large humidors can be exposed to different amounts of humidity due to their varying proximity to the humidification element.
How do they feel? Cigars that are properly stored should give a little when you press down on them but still offer some resistance. If you press down on a cigar and you thumb goes nearly all the way through it as though you were pressing down on a wet sponge, it’s too moist.
On the other hand, if it’s so hard that it feels like it was mined rather than rolled, it is clearly too dry. Although 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 70% humidity are the ideal conditions for cigar storage, the best gauge for measuring up the effectiveness of your humidor is the condition of your cigars.
Slight variations from the 70/70 ideal are fine if your cigars are still in good shape and should only be a cause for concern if they’re too dry or too moist.
Will the different cigars in my humidor impart their flavors to one another? If so, how can I stop this?
Since cigars are porous by nature, they can impart flavors to one another while in your humidor.
The best defense against this is leaving them in their cellophane wrappers when you put them in your humidor box. Unfortunately, this will not allow the cigars to age properly.
If you plan to keep both strong and mild cigars in your humidor and you’re worried about their flavors intermingling, you should keep them apart by using the dividers that are included in most good humidors.
We sell a variety of humidors featuring dividers as well as trays that can be lifted out altogether.
If you like keep a rather large amount of cigars of varying strengths around and are worried about their flavors intermingling with one another, we recommend a Cabinet or Armoire humidor from Cristom Imports. These units allow you to devote entire shelves to one kind of cigar.
If that’s not an option, or as a quick fix in a small humidor, a layer or two of the thin strips of cedar that come in some cigar boxes ought to do the trick.